“Popped” “Spit off the back” “Shelled”
Is that how you have described your experience on the local group ride?
Have you found yourself feeling frustrated and discouraged after getting dropped on your local group ride? Don’t worry, we have all been there and it is just part of the learning process.
Much of the time people end up getting gapped off the group and then left behind due to making some easy to correct mistakes. While most interpret being off the back as lack of fitness, oftentimes it is simply doing a less-than-optimal thing at a less-than-optimal time.
So here are some simple things you can do to improve your group riding performances and stay in the group.
- It always slows down. Remember that. When the pressure is on, and it really hurts, know that it is going to back down shortly. I recommend hanging on for 4 mins before you make the decision to pull the cord. Don’t try and take a 30 second pace increase and extrapolate that effort being what the pace will be for the rest of the ride.
- Take short pulls! The long pull is good for everyone but you. Be “selfish” with your pulling and be “generous” with giving everyone a chance to pull. Pulling on the front is not the time to be a hero! By taking short pulls you have the gas left in the tank to follow the crazy accelerations of the other rides. By pulling long you risk “slitting your own throat” when someone pulls after you gasses it super hard.
- Pull at less than your threshold power. Oh I know this is hard, but the reward is worth it. Going over your threshold floods your legs and makes it very difficult to clear to follow explosive surges over your threshold. It also leaves you hopeless in a sea of lactate if you do get slightly gapped off and are 1 foot behind the group chasing on!
- Position yourself at the front of the group before corners. Look ahead for corners, stoplights, stop signs, or anything that the group will go from slow to fast. Those accelerations are what break apart the groups and the further back you are in the group, the more amplified the effort is. A 10 second surge of 400w at the front can be a 20 second surge at 600w at the back as you are having to close gaps for longer, and hitting at faster speed.
- React to the accelerations that happen two or more riders ahead of you. Reacting to the efforts of the rider in front of you is too late and often leaves you gapped off. Look ahead and react as soon as the riders further up accelerate. You will save a lot of effort, be safer, and even drop riders yourself!
- If you feel scared, move forward, not back. The reaction most have when they feel rattled from the speed or the group is to drift backwards. However, the back is where the most dangerous riders are, reacting too late to things, and then having to do the biggest efforts with the weakest legs. There is nothing good back there! When you get scared or feel under pressure go to the front. It is soooo much safer and easier up there.